The Curse S1E6 Recap: I Think You Need a Band-Aid

“The Fire Burns On”

Whitney and Asher stand outside of a firehouse in The Curse S1E6, "The Fire Burns On"

The following recap contains spoilers for The Curse S1E6, “The Fire Burns On” (written by Nathan Fielder & Benny Safdie and directed by Nathan Fielder)

The Curse S1E6 opens with Whitney (Emma Stone) and Dougie (Benny Safdie) watching the first episode of Fliplanthropy, which focuses on Pascal (Alexander Gibson) and Janice (Aliyah Lee), the fake buyers they cast in last week’s episode. They’re charming enough, and everything feels nicely polished, but Whitney can’t help but feel that it all seems a bit lifeless.

Pascal and Janice on a TV screen

Dougie contends that the show needs some conflict, and since they don’t want to get into things like crime in the area, he suggests they mine tension from Whitney’s relationship with Asher (Nathan Fielder). He dials up a moment in the footage where Asher picks up a clay pot, and notes Whitney was rolling her eyes at her husband as he did so. Dougie asks her why she was annoyed with Asher in that moment. Then, they film her complaining about how Asher couldn’t even put his phone down when he was giving a gift, and Dougie plugs it into the show.

What’s most noteworthy about this is that Dougie and Whitney decide not to tell Asher about what they’re doing. Referring to the focus group, Dougie argues that people don’t want to hear what Asher thinks; they want to hear what Whitney thinks, and these scenes will help the audience trust her. That’s good for everyone, including the planet!

I can’t imagine Asher will be happy about this when he finds out, though he’s also relatively powerless in his relationship with his wife, so she may be able to placate him pretty easily.

I doubt that HGTV will sign off on changing the name of the show to Green Queen, both because (as Dougie notes) they like the term “flip” and because I don’t believe that Dougie actually likes the name. He’s just trying to take advantage of a newfound chumminess with Whitney to make the show better. If it’s left to him, he probably won’t even float the name change to the network.

Dougie talks with Whitney

Dougie has been texting with Cara (Nizhonniya Austin), but he seems to be really put off by the fact that she smokes. Whitney wants to know what they’ve been texting about, but she mostly wants to bond with Cara by talking about Dougie because she wants to believe Cara is her friend. She isn’t. She still hasn’t signed the release, and I’m sticking with my prediction that she isn’t going to.

Bill (David DeLao) isn’t Asher’s friend, either—at least not anymore. When Asher sees him at the hardware store, Bill’s shoulder could not be colder. He only makes the most minimal small talk when Asher corners him at the register while he’s checking out. Something has clearly happened with regard to the casino, and I’d surmise that they know (or, at least, greatly suspect) what Asher did when he pulled his Gatorade stunt. The timeline of The Curse isn’t entirely clear, but Asher tells Whitney he was just texting with Bill about going bowling three days prior, and I think Asher’s heist was more like weeks or months ago. Something has happened quite recently, but Asher doesn’t know what.

Asher tries to talk to Bill at a hardware store

You might expect Asher to become obsessed with finding the answer to this mystery, but for the moment he’s sidetracked by another: for some reason, there was chicken in the bathroom of the firehouse. He suspects Dougie of putting it there because he told Dougie about the curse, but this does not seem to be the case. Dougie never went into the bathroom, per the surveillance camera footage Asher insists on viewing. And neither is there anything else on the tape to explain the presence of this chicken.

Asher’s mind seems to turn to suspecting Nala (Hikmah Warsame), even though this doesn’t make any sense at all. We’d have to be talking about some true magic. Regardless, he tests her by getting her to guess the number of nails he’s placed under a bucket and then how many are in his hand. She keeps getting it right until he loads up his hand with nails, leading her to say she doesn’t know.

If you want to read into it, it’s as if it’s too many nails for Nala to form a clear mental image, or maybe she’s just noticing that Asher’s hand is bleeding.

As he goes to clean up, Nala tells him she’s sorry, but she doesn’t know what for. She didn’t do anything wrong; she’s just being a kid. And Asher knows that. He doesn’t really believe she’s some kind of witch who can magic chicken into a bathroom across town. The question is how far his paranoia will take him despite that. Already, he’s asking Nala about tiny curses after her father directly asked him not to.

Asher wears a T-shirt standing in front of a ladder

Speaking of Abshir (Barkhad Abdi), Episode 6 picks up on the chiropractic appointment that Whitney made for him, and it’s a disturbing scene. I have a good amount of experience with chiropractors, with two in my family, so I’m confident that Abshir is not being harmed by what’s being done to him (and I would lodge a certain level of complaint if The Curse ends up suggesting that he was). But, that being said, it’s super questionable that the chiropractor does not stop when Abshir is begging him to stop. And with the ominous music on the score, it’s hard not to feel like what we’re seeing is a violation of the man’s autonomy.

That’s because it is, even if it helps him. The way the chiropractor persists resonates with how the Siegels think they know what’s best for Española better than the long-term residents do. It’s right in line with the main themes of The Curse. We don’t see the aftermath of Abshir’s adjustment, so I’ll leave it at that for now, but I hope we pick up with this plotline next week.

Abshir with the hands of a chiropractor on his neck

The big question The Curse faces in the home stretch of the season is whether what the Siegels are doing is actually good, though I expect the answer will remain ambiguous.

They’ve made the firehouse energy-efficient, but now the power cuts out on occasion. They brought in businesses, but since Whitney doesn’t want the jeans store to call the cops on shoplifters, she’s getting charges for several hundred dollars to her credit card. Maybe that’s fine if she can afford it, but it’s also not ideal.

It would be easy to say that the Siegels are being too idealistic in their vision for Española, and you could argue that their mistakes flow from that. Alternately, you could argue that they are just exploiting this community in order to turn a profit at the end of the day, once they’ve successfully gentrified it.

Both of those explanations strike me as too simple, which is what makes The Curse so compelling. The answer lies somewhere in between.

See you next week.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

Caesar non est supra grammaticos

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